Although we seem to live in world society that is so absorbed with political correctness above any other concerns, I think it is time to implement a ranking and rating system for online genealogy databases. I certainly that the commercial companies will be concerned that some of their customers might become offended by low rankings, but such a ranking may also let the uninitiated know that sloppy genealogy is not excused by the greater genealogical community. As a matter of fact I would probably rate some of my own sources and entries in my own family trees very low, in the one star category.
The system used by Amazon.com and many other sales outlets gives the user a way to rank any product sold on the basis of one through five stars. There is also a review process where people can comment on the reasons why they awarded a low or high ranking. Let's suppose I had published a family tree on Ancestry.com. What if other users could rank my tree from one to five stars. Wouldn't that give other users an idea as whether or not to use in information?
Better yet, it would be a good idea is individual entries could be ranked according to a system of one through five stars. That system could also be extended to ranking sources one by one and so forth. Let's get away from all the direct vs. indirect source stuff and move on to what really counts: is the source useful and if so, how useful? I also thought about ranking our ancestors, but then we would really get into trouble.
This whole concept could be expanded into a ranking system of the accuracy of every entry and extended to the accuracy of names, places and dates. This idea would give the causal user of the programs the ability to decide what to do with certain information and whether or not other users thought it was reliable or not.
Right now, if I think some entry is baloney, all I can do is make a remark that no one will read. I could also delete the information or put in my own information. The problem is what if I do not know the information is correct or not but think it is unreliable. Comments do not seem to get anywhere.